Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
The Winter Ogre is Coming to Town!
I joked about it last year. This year I’m bringing the magic, joy and wonder of the Winter Ogre to life!
A few days after December 21, the first day of winter, the ogre giant comes down from the forested hills to stock up for winter. Under cover of darkness, he breaks into homes in our town and steals the provisions he needs. Ogres are simple and child-like in some ways, and so he grabs toys and other shiny and pretty objects he finds, in addition to practical things such as food, water and blankets. Ogres are largely scavengers, after all.
That is why each December we hang two giant ogre socks just inside our front door for the ogre to see as soon as he arrives. (It’s a little known fact that ogres always enter through the front door, being excellent lock pickers with little patience for climbing or knocking down fences.)
Upon seeing the specially designed ogre-size socks, his cold heart melts at the warmness of our gesture… for what could the small-foots who dwell here do with such large socks? They must surely be a gift to the ogre.
And so it is that the ogre returns the gesture. He takes the socks and leaves our home untouched but for the addition of toys and other goodies he collected from other homes that night.
(If some stuffed animals or annoying electronic toys that Mom and Dad hate should go missing, perhaps the Winter Ogre just couldn’t resist taking a few of our things.)
That’s the story I told my 6-year-old daughter. And no, I’m not traumatizing her. She accepted my tale as easily as she accepted Santa Claus. I’m actually a little disappointed that she’s not more of a skeptic.
Technically, the ogre might visit us anytime in December. Come Christmas morning, I will declare that we were blessed with another visit from the Winter Ogre and he passed us over, leaving only goodness in his wake. Rejoice!
I’m curious how she’ll jive this with her belief in Santa Claus.
Lest you think this weird, it’s no different than the time I made her believe in the Toilet Paper Fairy. I’ve invoked special interest fairies as explanations for a variety of unexplained situations we encounter in daily life as a way of prodding her to look for alternate explanations. She still clings to belief in the TP and tooth fairies and Santa, but I’ve challenged her a few times with the claim, “Some of the things you believe are real are actually pretend.” She just hasn’t decided yet which things Papa is lying to her about.
She never really believed my story about Underpants Gnomes when she was 5-years-old, although she did pretend to be such a gnome, stashing a cache of undergarments in her closet.
Incidentally, the way to score inexpensive ogre socks is to hit up a big thrift store as soon as it deploys its Christmas merchandise after Thanksgiving. $1 slightly used beats $17 new at a chain store, especially considering that I’m never going to fill the socks with anything.
I invite you to spread the story of the Winter Ogre, modifying his home appropriately (mountains, cave, subway, sewer system, etc.) and adjust the season if you’re in another hemisphere (the Summer Ogre enters you home to load up on ice cubes and lemonade or somesuch).
Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re about as likely to do that as you are to buy a pooping dog game. It’s your loss. Your kids are only young once. These are magic times.
My daughter wrote a letter and drew pictures for the Winter Gnome with paint pens. She doesn’t know what an ogre looks like; how could anyone when he lurks in the dark of night? So we debated and decided he’s probably green with sharp yellow teeth and purple horns.
Her letter reads:
Dear the December Ogre, have a good December, here is a winter warm sock! for you!! (smiley face picture) (two candy cane pictures) I would like to help you more with winter supplies. Love (her name). (Multiple heart pictures)
Yeah, she flubbed his name, but December Ogre is perhaps a universal name that better plays into the use of Christmas stockings in countries that don’t experience winter in December.